The Why Factor of VBS

A black dad helps his son read the Bible; it's the why factor

Is The Evangelistic VBS™ for Christian kids? Absolutely! It’s for every child. Even kids from Christian families and solid, Bible-teaching churches need to understand why they should believe what they are being taught. I call it the “why” factor. And unsaved kids with no Biblical background need it even more.

Our VBS approach helps kids have a solid grasp of the why factor—an approach we will always take to reach kids. I love our VBS because, when it comes to the why factor, it stands out from others.

I see four ways an RBP VBS achieves the goal of incorporating the why factor, or letting students know what to believe and why to believe it: (1) its teaching steadily builds a foundation for the reason kids should believe the gospel; (2) it emphasizes the power of personal example; (3) its theme focuses on central topics that kids need for their relationships with God and others; and (4) it helps kids understand that Scripture is trustworthy and is their source for the answers to life’s big questions.

Why Factor Way 1: Foundations

With our VBS, teaching the gospel isn’t one and done. Rather, the foundations of the gospel, including why students should believe it, are woven into every lesson throughout the week. This strategy makes it much more likely that faith decisions will be genuine. Students will clearly understand what the Bible says about salvation, and the way we present each foundation helps students believe God’s Word.

The foundations include truths such as these:

  • God is the creator and He made them, He loves them.
  • God is holy and perfect, and no sin can enter Heaven.
  • Sin is anything we think, do, or say that disobeys and displeases God—or don’t do that God has told us to do. We are born sinners.
  • Jesus is God the Son, Who never sinned and always obeyed the Father. He had died on the cross to take the punishment that our sins deserve. He was buried but rose again. The Father accepted Jesus’ death in our place.

6 teaching pictures from the Bible account of Jonah; includes a mapTo help students understand that a teacher is telling true-to-life facts, examples are woven into the lessons. For instance, teachers will talk about kinds of sins that students would have to readily admit they have done, but teachers will also present examples of God showing His love and forgiveness. These examples help the truth of God’s Word hit home in students’ minds and hearts. Take Big Fish Bay (2020) for example. When the Bible says Jonah ran from God, teachers have an opportunity to teach what sin is. When a fish swallowed Jonah, they can teach about the need for God’s mercy and about His mercy in protecting Jonah.

The foundational truths are integrated throughout the program. This differs from approaches that tack a gospel invitation onto the end or present the gospel mainly on the fourth day of VBS. If the invitation to believe in Christ for salvation is an add-on, it’s unlikely students will really understand what they are doing and why.

But when a child has been patiently taught the Scriptural keys of the gospel and then chooses to believe unto salvation, it is more likely that the student’s profession is real. That student won’t be part of the statistics of kids who, sadly, make a decision or say a prayer in VBS or summer camp and then walk away from the faith.

Building a solid Biblical foundation helps students know why they must believe the gospel and that it applies to them.

Why Factor Way 2: Examples

Our VBS materials emphasize the power of example, and they encourage both VBS leaders and Christian students to be godly examples. One of the most powerful ways kids find out why they should believe is to see adults and Christian students “practicing what they preach.” Also, as kids see God’s goodness modeled by leaders and other students who seek to follow Jesus, the fact that God is good is reinforced. Unsaved kids need to see that what the Bible teaches is real and that the Christians around them genuinely believe it and live it out. The power of example and leaders who model true faith have at least equal footing with apologetics (“defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity”) and at times might be even more powerful. This is especially true for younger kids.

Christian kids also learn from the example of their teachers and adult and teen workers who are growing in Christlikeness. These mentors can provide insight by sharing their own stories as well as Bible truths, showing that God is real and at work in the world.

VBS provides the potential for strong personal examples, because VBS is a focused time with personal interaction on three levels: students to leaders, students to students, and leaders to leaders.

Why Factor Way 3: Relationships

Our VBS themes tend to focus on central topics that kids need for their relationships with God and others. These include topics such as forgiveness, God’s mercy, faithfulness, the extraordinary Savior, taking the gospel to new frontiers, and God’s glory. The theme is vital to reaching kids in the ways VBS should, because we try not to become distracted by culture-war items that could potentially be obstacles to families that do not have a church background. It is important to put first things first with kids and parents who do not yet know Christ as Savior. While these theme topics open the door for evangelism, they also provide the information and challenge that Christian kids need so they know what to do about sin (confessing their own and forgiving others’), how to become more like Jesus, how to tell the gospel to others, and so much more. And then do it.

Why Factor Way 4: Getting It

Our VBS lessons tend to be expository (explaining a passage of Scripture). This helps reinforce the fact that the Bible is where kids should turn for truth. And even though it’s important to us that the lessons are on the level of kids, we won’t compromise solid Biblical interpretation to get there.  Our writers and editors diligently ensure that everything taught is true from Scripture. Most often the lessons feature one Biblical character (e.g., Moses) and focus on what Scripture teaches from that person’s life.

This approach allows students to see applications of the Bible’s answers in a real person’s life (connections to the students’ lives are drawn from the Biblical character’s hopes, faults, and successes). This approach differs from some other VBSes, where lessons stay in the shallow end of Scriptural basis or jump from passage to passage or fact to fact, which can confuse kids.

That Scripture is trustworthy and is the source for answers to the big questions of life is a truth for both unsaved and saved kids. RBP’s approach not only emphasizes that God’s Word has the answers, but it shows how those answers played out in a real person’s life and how the Bible’s answers can play out in students’ lives too. This approach contributes to students understanding why they should believe the Bible’s teachings.

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To summarize, our VBS does an excellent job of starting kids in the right direction for what they believe and why they should believe it. Check out RBP’s 2022 VBS—Kookaburra Coast: Awesome Adventures in God’s Glory.

Joshua Mason is creative manager of Vacation Bible School at Regular Baptist Press.

This is the first of a series of articles on The Why Factor of VBS. Read more.

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